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Doing the right thing is our greatest challenge

Bring the ADF in now
Hasty and minimal training for prison officers and police is not suitable for infection control, which requires skill and experience to execute reliably. The most highly trained and well-resourced ADF forces from around Australia need to be brought in by Premier Daniel Andrews now. The emergency mobilisation of police to the high-density tower shutdowns might have been necessary initially, but the ADF needs to replace them urgently. The police involved should self quarantine for 14 days, preferably away from their families, as, almost certainly, some of them may have already been infected.
Ruja Varon, Malvern

This makes no sense at all
I just don’t get it. While we are all isolated, and keeping our distance, I don’t understand how the football teams (and families) can go to WA, where no one is allowed over the closed borders, and to NSW and Queensland, which have made it clear they don’t want any Victorians.
Is this all being driven by the dollar and the need to ensure sponsorship continues? It doesn’t make sense at all … the same rules are not for everyone it seems.
Joan McMillan, Ballarat

THE FORUM

Platform to understanding
The column by Eryk Bagshaw (‘‘Australia risks squandering a lucrative export – and a diplomatic opportunity’’, Business, 4/7) examining our relationship with China should be required reading for education policymakers across Australia.
No one could disagree with the elemental truth that it is education that lies at the heart of all worthy human aspiration and attainment. Without it there is no future.
Bagshaw makes the case cogently for education to position itself centrally in our relationship with China; recognising the benefits for Chinese students’ deeper understanding of our systems of governance and the law – while also enhancing our students’ greater insight into China.
The current tensions between our two countries are entirely justified, based as they are on Beijing’s outrageous interventions in Hong Kong and deep suspicions regarding the origins of the coronavirus.
Without diminishing the seriousness of these issues – education could be ‘‘the’’ platform on which some form of common ground may be based.
Several Australian universities and research institutes know this to be true.
John Simpson, Melbourne

They had to act quickly
I write this believing Victoria will flatten the curve again. If it means all of us needing to isolate for another four weeks, so be it.
Economically I realise how difficult that would be but if many get sick and need hospital care, the toll would be high.
There were obvious errors made, but governments had to act in haste, there was no dress rehearsal. Instead of looking to blame, look to where we can help. For example, by making our neighbours understand the need to get tested, this virus is deadly.
It is difficult to not see my grandchildren and friends, but we should learn to be happy with the small things and more importantly play a role in helping others understand why we need to distance and isolate. As I understand, clusters will constantly break out until there is a vaccine.
The state and Commonwealth governments have been strong and it would be refreshing to hear the state Opposition Leader offer co-operative views rather than trying to make political mileage.
Barbara Rozenes, Southbank

Society is the priority
Managing COVID-19 is a national emergency yet recently in excess of 10,000 people have refused to be tested.
Make it the law now, that anyone refusing to be tested shall immediately be sent to quarantine for 14 days at their personal expense. In these times, society as a whole should have priority.
Timothy Ashton, Katamatite

Unnecessary uncertainty
In light of the recent upsurge in Victorian COVID-19 cases, the Victorian opposition should reflect on whether their constant politicising of every decision is helping or hurting.
Undoubtedly, mistakes have been made, but the Andrews government has also done a great many things right in a situation where there are many unknowns. And no matter what decisions are made at the government level, ultimately it comes down to each individual as to whether we heed the warnings and do the right thing.
Michael O’Brien and his colleagues couldn’t stop complaining about the severity of the original Victorian lockdown and only wanted restrictions to be eased earlier than they were, accusing the Premier of enjoying controlling everyone’s life.
But by saying the lockdown should have been lifted earlier, they undermined the government’s message and helped create a situation where people thought there was nothing to worry about.
Just as mask-wearing has been turned into a political football in the US, the opposition, by politicising the steps being taken in Victoria to control the spread of COVID-19, are creating uncertainty in the public’s mind at a time when we need unity among our leaders in our fight against the pandemic.
Donna Cohen, St Kilda

The Wright stuff
As long as we are socially distanced, there is no one I would prefer to hear spellbinding accounts from, as well as share his wonderfully reminiscent ‘‘hot tea and a scone’’ with, than storyteller supremo Tony Wright.
As always, he is bang on (“To gather is human, but it can go wrong”, Insight, 4/7) .
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

It’s only natural
The human condition Tony Wright mentions in his article touches on an important cultural phenomenon overlooked in the current COVID-19 public health program.
Wright is correct regarding humans having an instinctive urge to gather together in family, tribal and community groups – an essential social determinant developed over millennia for species survival.
The gathering brings with them an intense primal need for emotional and spiritual bonding and touching and, clearly, the need is stronger in certain cultural groups. Criticism of this natural behaviour demonstrates an inherent failure to understand the human condition.
Sociologists and epidemiologists know this. Public health specialists, and the politicians they advise, need to understand that the implementation of measures to flatten incidence curves needs to be tempered with an appreciation of the heightened anxiety, longing and distress social dislocation interventions will inevitably bring.
Those who are blindly driven to reduce disease incidence at all costs would do well to remember that the essence of our society is considerably more than statistical graphs and boundaries on hot spot maps.
Laurie Warfe, Woorarra West

Dispossessed? Hardly
Do these men of the mountains, defenders of the brumby (aka feral horses) ever consider it was their ancestors that dispossessed our First Nations people of ‘‘their’’ land? It is absolutely offensive that they now claim to be the dispossessed ones (‘‘Battle over brumbies stirs up old anger’’, Insight, 4/7) .
Jeff Dickinson, Tecoma

A legacy of disadvantage …

For years it feels like Melbourne Airport has been allowed to craft a misleading narrative that residents affected by aircraft noise could reasonably have understood what was to come. What this article (‘‘Noise pain threatens airport growth’’, The Age, 4/7) lays bare is that that’s not true.
Yet there is so much to say than one article can cover: the planned third and fourth runways were moved in 1990, well after the residential areas they will affect were developed; we now know aircraft noise is detrimental to mental and physical health, not just annoying; models for calculating the economic costs of these impacts are not being applied to calculations of the economic benefits to Australia; and as long ago as 2013 the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman admitted up to 45 per cent of people living outside the aircraft noise contours were moderately to severely affected by aircraft noise.
Or perhaps most importantly, the regulatory framework to protect residents into the future simply doesn’t exist, so past mistakes may well be repeated in future air transport expansion projects.
The regulatory framework must be brought into line with current knowledge and existing development or we risk creating a legacy of health and educational disadvantage for all communities around Australian airports.
Hannah Robertson, Keilor

… and impending disaster
Thank you, Timna Jacks, for your article highlighting how the future noise footprint of Melbourne Airport will affect about 30 schools and childcare centres if the north-south runway is built in 2025.
Surely the federal government will not sign off on this impending disaster.
Lyndi Chapman, Keilor

Individual responsibility
To your correspondent (‘‘We just want an apology and some understanding’’, Letters, 4/7), we are all very sorry some irresponsible people have refused to comply with expectations of adequate distancing, including the security firms hired for this purpose. The fact that some employees and their management failed to do this has resulted in the latest increased lockdown seriously affecting my family also.
The Premier and all associated staff and health workers have made untiring efforts to implement measures to protect people as far as possible. However, expecting Daniel Andrews to supervise every aspect of this crisis and apologise for anyone’s disregard of their individual obligations is childish and silly.
Directing your attention to the antisocial flotsam in the community might be more useful and for a predictably long time to come.
Likewise, people unreasonably refusing to be tested for the public good should be penalised in a manner that conveys the message that the matter is not just about their selfish selves. Full marks, Premier.
Judith Horton, Heidelberg West

They also need safe haven
Of course we should provide safe haven for citizens of Hong Kong who are fleeing oppression.
But why don’t we also do that for the refugees held in hotels who also sought a safe haven, for those who are in our community now and denied any access to government support, for those who continue to suffer in the hell of indefinite detention, or the boatloads of Rohingyas who fled when their lives were in danger. Why have we left Australian women and their children languishing in refugee camps?
It seems this government sees some lives as more worthwhile than others.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

Time to decentralise
Oh for a skyline like New York or London. Progressive. Modern. Except for the outbreak of COVID-19 infections where large numbers of people are living cheek by jowl. It couldn’t happen here, right? Until now.
Has anyone analysed comparative rates of infection – single dwellings, four, five or six to the acre, versus sky-high apartment buildings in Melbourne? How smart it would be to encourage decentralisation of individuals, families and employment opportunities to well-serviced provincial cities and large towns, before the next pandemic strikes.
That would be real progress. Cheaper, too, than fighting mass infection.
David Allen, Bayswater North

AND ANOTHER THING

The lockdown
How is it that parts of Melbourne are locked down and yet utter complacency is obvious within and on the main streets of our beautiful areas here on the Bellarine?
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale

It wasn’t that long ago Michael O’Brien and his Victorian Liberal Party colleagues were being outraged because the original lockdown restrictions weren’t being lifted quickly enough.
Kevin Ward, Preston

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COVID-19 testing
Compulsory coronavirus testing would not be a tyrannical abuse of human rights. It would even help protect the ‘‘abused’’.
Ian Powell, Glen Waverley

Nothing changes. The current selfish behaviour of the minority of Victorians in refusing testing, as usual, spoils things for the majority. Nothing changes.
Ailene Strudwick, Mornington

Surely those refusing to be tested for COVID-19 should be required to self-isolate for two weeks to protect the rest of us?
Elisabeth Schiller, Glen Iris

No one is exempt from a police roadside test for drugs or alcohol. So why is it not a punishable offence to refuse testing for COVID-19?
Jeanne Fernandes, Altona

Politics
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack claimed Anthony Albanese had everything to lose in the Eden Monaro byelection and the pressure was all on Labor. Well, the result is in and Albanese has passed that test with flying colours.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

Furthermore
I understand the Hong Kong government is offering protection visas to Australian journalists being prosecuted for publishing stories in the public interest …
Gregory Oates, Huon Creek

Finally
With no sense of irony towards First Nations people, former MP Peter Cochrane (The Age, 4/7) whines about being ‘‘pitched out of our land’’.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

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